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What Should the Status of Puerto Rico Be?

Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean Sea. Puerto Rico has been a

Commonwealth under the United States since July 25, 1952 when Governor

Mu os proclaimed the new constitution. In the election of 1968, Governor

Ferr favored statehood for Puerto Rico. After his election there were many

unsuccessful attempts to make Puerto Rico into the 51st state. After more

than 30 years the question still stands. What should the status of Puerto

Rico be? There are three options for the status of Puerto Rico ( Puerto

Rico ).

One option for the status of Puerto Rico is to become the 51st state of

the United States of America. A lot of people disagree with this option.

Since currently Puerto Rico doesn t pay taxes and sixty percent of Puerto

Rico s citizens are classified as living at poverty, and then U.S. taxpayers

or employed citizens are worried that if Puerto Rico becomes a state that

their taxes will increase dramatically (Hamill 26). Already forty percent of

the people on the island get federal benefits (Buchanan 35). The

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico already costs mainland U.S. taxpayers over

$6 billion dollars each year. The state of Puerto Rico could cost residents of

the other fifty states far more.

Another option is to remain a Commonwealth. Puerto Rico, after

being in Commonwealth for 32 years, still can t make the decision of

become a state or taking care of its own self and becoming an independent

nation. Governor Pedro Rossello pleaded with Puerto Rican citizens to vote

for a final decision. Forty eight percent of the citizens voted to retain the

commonwealth status, forty six percent chose statehood and four chose

independence ( Puerto Rico, See graph on page 4). The majority of

Puerto Rican citizens want Puerto Rico to remain in Commonwealth, but

the government ignored the peoples voices. One of the reasons why Puerto

Rico has remained a commonwealth for so long is of the language barrier

between Puerto Rico and the United States. Puerto Rico has never declared

which official language it would use permanently. The official language

was Spanish in the late 1800s. Then it was changed to English in the early

1900s. In 1902 Puerto Rico made both Spanish and English their official

languages. In 1990 a member of Puerto Rico s Popular Democratic Party

introduced a bill which would declare Spanish to be the sole official

language of Puerto Rico. The chairman of People For the American Way

Action Fund told the Senate Subcommittee on July 14, 1989 that 98% of the

population speaks Spanish and 20% are fluent in English (Puerto Rico &

Statehood…). Puerto Rico has no representation because they don t pay

taxes, but if they become a state then how are they going to get their voices

heard if only 20% of them speak fluent English. Most Puerto Ricans want

to remain a Commonwealth because they say that if the island is good

enough the way it is now, then there is no reason to change.

The third option is to become an independent nation. Other

independent nations have done well after the U.S. has given them a financial

boost. Honduras and Panama are examples of countries that the United

States has given money to improve their status. The most ideal example is

the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is similar to Puerto Rico

in climate, topography, location, what they import and export. In the mid

1800s the United States helped the Dominican Republic by building their

status up after a civil war. Now the Dominican Republic is the leading

country in the Caribbean Sea. That s why a lot of experts say that there will

be no major difference if Puerto Rico dropped the commonwealth and

became an independent nation except for the money issue. Political leaders

say that if the Dominican Republic could meet its needs how can t Puerto

Rico do it if they make more money than the Dominican Republic

(Gonzalez 17).

In conclusion there are three options for the status of Puerto Rico.

One of them is for Puerto Rico to become a state. Second, is for Puerto

Rico to remain in Commonwealth under the United States. Last, is for

Puerto Rico to become an independent nation since the beginning of the last

century. If Puerto Rico becomes a state then there would probably be a rise

in taxes because approximately 60% of Puerto Ricans are considered

poverty. 1990 census data shows that if Puerto Rico becomes a state it will

outrank 26 other states in population size, entitling it to as many as seven

Congressman as well as two Senators (Puerto Rico & Statehood…). If

Puerto Rico remains in Commonwealth, the only problem is the taxpayers

would be paying the financial problems of another nation. If Puerto Rico

becomes an independent nation then they will finally be known as being

independent since almost 100 years.


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